Questions Remain in Milwaukee Police Shootings

Within three days, officers killed a man who was trying to disperse a rowdy crowd, and shot a man on a garage rooftop under unclear circumstances. “People feel like the police are around to go to trouble and then they cause more,” said one witness.

To Hercules Brown Sr., the Milwaukee police seemed to come out of nowhere. Brown did not notice them as he tried to quell a rowdy group of people who had been cursing and screaming in the Milwaukee neighborhood where he’s lived for 46 years, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. He saw his grandson step out of their house and fire shots in the air, trying to disperse the crowd. Officers suddenly appeared and shouted at his grandson. “He put his hands down to the side, still holding the gun, and he froze like a rock,” Brown said. Brown heard several gunshots and his 37-year-old grandson was dead.

That was Sunday night. Three days earlier, Milwaukee police officers shot a man on a garage rooftop, seriously injuring him and sending him to the hospital. “People feel like the police are around to go to trouble and then they cause more,” said Destiny Colvin, who witnessed the first shooting and recorded it on Facebook live. Although the exact circumstances of each shooting remain unclear, in general, police officers are authorized to use deadly force if they reasonably believe someone poses a threat to officers or to the public. In the Thursday case, officers received a call of a “subject with a gun” and saw a man matching that armed person’s description, authorities said. The man ran from police and ended up on a garage rooftop, where the confrontation occurred with two officers. The department has yet to say whether the man was armed or whether a weapon was recovered at the scene. A police spokesman also would not say if the shooting was captured on police body-worn cameras and declined to clarify if both officers, or just one, fired shots.